Simonetta: The First Lady of Italian Fashion
The press release for her first collection in 1946 read in part: To understand how difficult it was to open a maison de couture and have a show with 14 models just after the liberation of Rome by the Allies, one must remember the general situation at that time. Materials and trimmings were very scarce. The most surprising and common materials had to be used to make the extraordinary collection—dish cloths, gardeners' aprons, butlers' uniforms, strings and ribbons, and everything that could be found on the market.
La Duchesa Simonetta Colonna di Cesaro shot by Norman Parkinson
The brilliant London milliner Stephen Jones' La Prima Donna Autumn/ Winter 2004 collection was inspired by Donna Simonetta.
As Mr Jones put it in his description of her: Simonetta entered my consciousness in 1976 at St Martin's School of Art, when I marvelled over her portrait in the book 'In Vogue' by Bridgit Keenan, the first fashion tome that I bought. I was fascinated by this image; she and her Vogue world seemed so urbane, exotic and glamorous - the opposite from the current punk sensibility, but even then, I had the notion that her aristocratic arched eyebrow was not so far removed from Jonny Rotten's punk sneer.
A giant pom-pom of ostrich fronds dyed in a leopard pattern and trimmed with a gold safety pin.
A Fabiani-ciaga satin organza aerodynamic beret with velvet bow and crystal drop.
Inspired by the oeuvre of fabulous Roman mid-century millinery maestro Cannessa. His clients included Capucci, Schuberth, Sorelle Fontana, and of course Simonetta. Here is a dramatic coiffure of velvet, veiling and sequins (the ancient currency of Venice).
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